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Outcome-Based Education Opposition

State Capital Bureau

May 04, 1995

NOTE: Sidebar to the main story STANDARD.HTM

JEFFERSON CITY _ Two years after legislators passed the Outstanding Schools Act of 1993, the measure has sparked a statewide debate about what schools should be teaching your children.

The act, backed by Gov. Mel Carnahan, was included in a tax increase plan passed in 1993 to comply with a court decision declaring the state's method of funding local schools unfair and unconstitutional.

Two years later, in the this year's legislative session, the education law has sparked bills to back off various provisions of the law and submit the tax increase to the voters.

A main target for many Republican legislators is the $300 million tax increase.

"Carnahan told people he wanted a $200 million tax increase with a vote of the people," said Senate Republican Leader Franc Flotron, R-St. Louis County. "It's a question of basic integrity. It's no different than 'Read My Lips.'"

A debate over the issue is also fueled by the changes in educational system. Under the act, an outcome-based education approach is taken in which students must meet the performance requirements developed by teacher work groups and approved by the state Education Board. Also, every school is required to adopt a set curriculum to accomplish these goals.

Missourians for Academic Excellence (MAE), a group lobbying against these changes, charges the Outstanding Schools Act will result in higher costs, loss of local school district control and the academic decline of Missouri students, according to its mission statement.

Some minority educators have spoken out against programs that don't teach standard, generally-accepted communication skills within the context of creative thinking. Some opposition leaders affiliated with MAE said Missouri's proposed standards will be one of these programs working against minority students.

"The nonacademic character of these standards will harm minority children most," said Ron Freeman, a black conservative leader in the Kansas City area. "It will encourage students to practice social promotion based on weak curriculum. At-risk students need rich, demanding curriculum and high adult expectations: the exact opposite of what this outcome-based reform will produce."

MAE proposed several bills for this year's legislative session, none of which were passed. Only one bill avoided being buried in the committee process.

MAE's bills would have:

@ Required legislators to approve the educational reforms before statewide implementation.

@ Proposed a constitutional amendment allowing citizens to elect State Education Board members every two years. Currently, members of the board are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

@ Provided for development of specific standards for each grade level in language arts, math, science and social studies. Instead of being appointed by professional teacher organizations, teachers experienced in these subjects would be nominated by administrators and appointed to the work groups by the state Education Board, MAE said. The system set up would measure children's performance in each grade against that of children in other schools in the state and nation.

@ Mandated a statewide referendum to approve the Outstanding Schools Act and the $300 million tax increase that finances it.

@ Repealed sections of the Outstanding Schools Act that allow a recall election of school board members in a district determined to be "academically deficient." MAE said this would reestablish local control of Missouri public schools.

@ Repeal the minimum $2.75 tax levy required for all school districts.

Although none of the bills cleared the legislature, they did lead to more discussion during the legislative session, said Lynette Holt, MAE president.

"It was pretty predictable, but the session went well in that we got our ideas out there," Holt said. "There are a lot more questions being voiced."

Holt said MAE will continue to inform people about the standards.

"We'll continue plugging away at it and hopefully we'll get the reforms overturned," she said.